Host a Presentation Screening with Honest Critics

Remove yourself from a sugar-sweet or dysfunctional review environment. Instead, pull together a small group that has a similar profile as your target audience. They could be people in your industry like analysts, internal employees, trusted customers, or a focus group. Choose naysayers who will scrutinize, criticize, and challenge your perspective. You want them to be brutally honest when they tell you what they think.

Each screener should have a printout of the notes’ view of your presentation so they can quickly jot down thoughts on the words and the visuals. Run through the entire presentation once, and then revisit each section carefully. A solid review meeting should last about three times as long as the presentation itself. If your presentation is twenty minutes long, for example, each screening should take an hour. If your presentation lasts an hour, the screening should take three.

Give your test-audience a safe environment to tell you what they really think. Solicit feedback in a non-defensive way and let them challenge all assumptions. Encourage them to tell you if your presentation genuinely kept their interest.

Don’t ignore your screeners’ insights or give “yeah, but…” or “if they really knew…” excuses. Really listen to them, and incorporate their insights. Then, rework your material. Screening the presentation will remove any burrs that would unintentionally snag or poke the audience.

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